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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 20 March 2014
I was lucky enough to hear Peter Doyle talk at a recent book launch, and it made me want to buy the book. What made this book most interesting was the personal touch from the author. Nearly all of the 100 objects were from his private collection and, having never been a military fan before, I found it fascinating reading about some of the artifacts and looking at the wonderful photographs of them too! I would recommend this book to anyone, even those with little interest in militaria, will soon find themselves engrossed.
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on 15 October 2014
Peter Doyle is regarded as an expert on the 1st World War, and this book confirms that he is. He has chosen 100 objects related to the 1st World War and created a marvellous book, which tells the story of the 1st World War, in an easily read and informative style.
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on 3 March 2014
As always Peter brings together interresting and thought provoking material
The actual presentation of the matrial is very pleasing
The content readable and accessible to the non- expert
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on 19 August 2014
Enjoyed the book and found it an interesting idea to describe the First World War using various items from that conflict.The changing from object to object held my attention better than a straightforward description of the war. I recommend this book especially to readers who find it difficult to read the normal historical WW1 book.
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on 2 January 2015
It’s curious in some ways that Amazon should pick up Mike Young’s review called ‘A Different Angle’, and have it as one of what they consider to be the more favourable reviews, whereas I would place it among the more unfavourable ones since he refers to some errors of fact [which he considers minor]. Like him I spotted errors... but he hasn’t got the half of it; and I feel that Peter Doyle, clearly a well-respected authority in this field, has been badly let down by his editors/proof readers. The issue is not exactly whether mistakes are minor or major, but just how many of them there are. At what point do you simply start to say that you can’t trust the authority of this writer to make certain claims, when there are so many mistakes in the detail?
I’ll list a few of them…
On p18 he refers to French victory in the Franco Prussian war… but gets it right with the French defeat, on p107.
On p57 and p112 he refers to the first gas attacks in Ypres in May 1915, yet gets it right on p179 when he says it started on 22 April 1915.
On p224 is the incredible claim that male tanks had 6” guns [that’s the size of the main armament on HMS Belfast!] yet he gets it right on the next page referring to 6-pounder guns.
On p205 he refers to the Lochnagar crater being caused by 60,000 tons of Ammonal when in fact it was 60,000 lbs weight.
All references to Jackie Fisher omit his full title; which was Admiral Sir Jackie Fisher.
On p258 he refers to details of the Glade of the Armistice and accurately says that the original wagon lit used by Foch was placed there. This is true in that it was placed there at that time… but it would be a good qualification to make to add that the wagon lit that is presently there is not the original one... and hasn’t been since the Second World War. The original wagon lit was taken back to Berlin following Germany victory over France in 1940, and then was destroyed by allied bombing during the war.
All of these are factual errors and need to be corrected; the book is a lesser thing because of mistakes.

In my second area of difference of view; I’ll start by saying that the author is absolutely entitled to his opinion over the selection of the 100 objects, and he has expressed his own reservations on p10 about the difficulty of getting a coherent story; and he says he ‘had to cover the many fronts, nations and phases of the war….’ Now it is this sense of having to cover that worries me because here and there it looks like his selection is not governed any quirky individual thinking or the inclusion of iconic war time mementoes; but instead looks like a more politically correct approach of making sure that every side gets a look in. What this has led to, I think, is a lack of balance and an over-emphasis on certain areas, to the exclusion of others. I’ll give some examples. He is limited to only be able to choose 100 objects.. yet 8 of them are examples of military head wear! OK, we get the drift... did every fighting nation’s helmet need to be included? Having included the German helmet [two examples] did he think Austrians would be upset if theirs wasn’t also included? Then a further 8 objects are parts of uniform or military insignia. This included both the Canadian and the Australian shoulder badges as separate objects.. once again looking like a ‘fair dos, I’d better mention them both so no one gets offended’ approach. The consequence of this relative duplication of certain basic objects is that he runs out of space to refer to other very significant ones. This area of ‘significant omissions’ is obviously a question of opinion; but equally I’m questioning the ‘coherence’ that the author claims for his story, when so many key angles are missed out. I don’t think I would be alone in commenting that Women get a poor deal among his 100 objects. He could have doubled the references to the role and importance of women by replacing the photo of Albert Balls’ grave with a photo of Edith Cavell’s.
There is also a cultural deficit; with no reference to War art. Surely something of the work of Nash, Singer Sergeant or Nevinson, or the film ‘The Battle of the Somme’, or the war poets or authors could have replaced one of the lesser helmets in his selected 100?
There is also no reference to any object that reflected the spiritual/mental side of a soldier’s existence. If the author had included a packet of Woodbines as one of his objects, that would have let him go on to Woodbine Willie and padres, YMCA huts, Toc H/Poperinghe, deserters/firing squads and who knows what else linked to this general theme.

These are the only points I’ll make on the author’s selection because my views could rest on thin grounds of complaint; I’m well aware that his standard response would be ‘that If I didn’t like his selection, then go away and write your own book so you get the 100 objects you want.’
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on 28 September 2014
Having recently visited Ypres and'enjoyed' an excellent tour of the area I 'enjoyed' being reminded of the dramatic nature of the WW1 conflict. One thing that comes across is the awful complexity of the mechanics of war. Engineers and technicians seem to play as great a part in war as actual combatants.

The idea of 100 objects does mean it is possible to absorb the military horror in sizeable chunks.
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on 19 August 2014
For 99p this is a great little book, however, I think I detected a couple of minor historical errors, or at least information that was not entirely clear, which were not to do with 1914-18. The first was the suggestion that France was the victor in the Franco-Prussian War: the second was the date of the Boer War. Moving on to the book as a whole, presenting the history of anything through artefacts (artifacts) is something of a new and novel way of presenting history, and it works in this history of the Great War. From memory, all but a few of the objects relate to the Western Front, very few, if any, are to do with the Russian Front and I don't recall any American objects. Having said that, the book is worth reading even if like me you have read a great deal about this bloody conflict.
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on 25 July 2014
The pace of technological progress and automated production in Europe escalated rapidly during the opening decade of the 20th Century, and these dynamics were immediately channelled into the prosecution of the 1914-1918 conflict. As a result, the warring forces soon became dependent on mass-produced military materiel, equipment and ordnance. When hostilities in Europe became bogged-down in strategic stalemate, increasing expectations – and demands – were placed on technology to deliver solutions to the new forms of warfare emerging on land, at sea, and in the air. Armoured fighting vehicles, attack aircraft, and advanced artillery, which in peacetime might have taken years to be conceived, designed and manufactured in volume, now in some cases went from drawing-board to battlefield in matters of months. War sped-up innovation in electronic communications devices and put telephones and wireless transmitters directly into combat zones.
Many such examples of influential engineering and technology are included in these this book. It presents 100 things that have functional, representational or symbolic significance to the great conflict. They range broadly from the quirky to the iconic, the national to the personal. Just about every object has emotional or intellectual resonance, and often serves to explain multiple aspects of the First World War story as it unfolded in its various theatres around the globe. Several of the objects also highlight advances in engineering or technology that war (directly or indirectly) brought about. Recommended.
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on 6 June 2014
Really interesting selection of objects that give a different way to think about the WWI. For those of us who had relatives fighting it makes it much more personal to see the objects they would have seen. Great photos too.
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on 21 August 2014
A good alternative to a standard chronological history and very readable in bite-sized chunks. Inevitably, one senses subjectivity in the choice of objects, as well a niggling sense that something important might be missing from the 100. It would be interesting to compare with the other two books with the identical title - publishing industry not covering itself in glory here and one feels for the authors. But this one is well-written, with the objects as jumping off points on key aspects of the conflict.

Inevitably any book on objects will lack a focus on men and their stories - which in my experience are more vivid and moving - although slightly forced attempts are made to 'personalise'. Also not sure of the target readership: 'lay readers' unfamiliar with the Great War might benefit from a greater sense of the narrative chronology 1914-18; but those more expert will perhaps already know most of what's in here. It has a 'coffee-table' feel to it, for casual browsers, although the Kindle edition hardly allows me to judge the look of the book. This is not a book I would retain for reference in my FWW library, but at 99p was worth a read.
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